Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Page 111: Fun with numerology

Here’s a Tweezer Easter egg twofer. If you thought the first Tweezeer Easter eggs on page 106 were obscure, then prepare yourself!

Like those on page 106, these Tweezer Easter eggs involve numerology based on the idea that alphabets also doubled as number symbols in ancient Hebrew (gematria), Greek (isosephia), and other languages, thus meaning that words in those languages all have numerical values. (This is unlike English, whose alphabet has no designated numerical values.) Practitioners of gematria often work from the premises that these numerological values are inherent in the language's morphology, that words have specific meanings for a reason, and that words with equivalent numerical values are therefore meaningfully connected. Some use it as a tool for contemplation. In The Billionth Monkey, we’re using it for entertainment.

In the first Tweezer post—“Some college kid just told me that I don’t exist”—we find:
  • 21 likes = אהיה, “existence”; one of several names of God in the Old Testament, the “I am” part of “I am that I am” in Exodus 3:14.
  • 120 (from 3,120 followers) = ον (being), a term from Plato’s dialogue Parmenides to express the idea that to exist means to be intelligible.
  • 310 (from 3:10 pm) = יש, another Hebrew term meaning “existence.”
This diagram of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, as popularized in Western esotericism, shows אין, Ain (Nothing), as one of the three Veils of Negative Existence at the top. (Art by Frater Ash, image from Thelemapedia.)
The second tweeze—“Not only do I not exist, but I’m also wrong”—only has one goodie hiding in plain sight: 61 (from 3,161 followers) = אין, literally “nothing” or “non-existence.” So the Easter eggs on these two posts go hand-in-hand, not only in terms of the plot of The Billionth Monkey, but also in terms of the numerological Easter eggs.

There are plenty more to come as we work through the book.

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